Watch this audio slideshow of a ride on Löngufjörur, white-sand beaches on Snaefellsnes peninsula in south Iceland. Among the things that foreign tourists find remarkable about Iceland is the black-sand beaches, tinted by volcanic ash. But there are white-sand beaches in Iceland too, although they are rare.
Photos by Geir Ólafsson (black-sand beach) Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir, Eva Símonardóttir and Thórarinn Torfi Finnbogason. Narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected]
Click here to download the slideshow.
One of the things that foreign tourists find remarkable about Iceland is the black-sand beaches, tinted by volcanic matter. They find them exotic in the same way Icelanders find white-sand beaches exotic.
When they think of them they envision tropical temperatures, palm trees and cocktails but shiver at the thought of their own black beaches and the cold waves crashing against the shore.
Naturally, the sea temperature can be cold on white-sand beaches and vice-versa; there are black-sand beaches in Hawaii, for example, but the illusion is powerful.
And so white shell-sand was imported to the Reykjavík beach Nauthólsvík for a more tropical look. Of course the geothermally heated water adds to the illusion.
However, there are natural white-sand beaches in Iceland, primarily on Snaefellsnes peninsula in the west. Löngufjörur (“Long Beaches”) are shell-sand beaches that stretch from Hítarnes promontory to Búdir on the southern peninsula.
The beaches are a popular destination among riders as the horse’s pace becomes especially steady and rhythmic when running on sand and with virtually no obstacles as far as the eye can see, it is great fun racing the horses along the shoreline.
Yet the beaches can be dangerous. Riding there is only possible during low tide. At high tide the beaches flood very quickly and people who miscalculate the time are at risk of drowning themselves and their horses.
Therefore it is safest to consult with a local or hire a guide. Or better yet, join an organized tour. There are a few horse rentals in west Iceland which offer tours to Löngufjörur.
At some farms located close to the coast people can park their vehicles and ask the farmers about the timing of tides before walking or riding on the beach.
One of these farms is Stakkhamar (turn to the left approximately where the highway turns right to Stykkishólmur on the northern peninsula) where the friendly farm dog cheerfully greets visitors.
The surroundings are serene with Ljósufjöll mountains to the north and Snaefellsjökull glacier sparkling like a diamond to the west. On the bright green fields cows graze relaxed as they observe the riders getting ready.
The pristine white sand sure looks exotic and the light-blue ocean is inviting. The untouched sand causes riders and horses to feel the instant urge to sprint.
The sand is resistant yet soft on the hoof and soon it is crisscrossed with hoofmarks, only to be washed clean again at the next high tide.
It feels as if the ride could go on forever, the beaches stretching as far as the eye can see: sunshine in the face, a cool breeze in the hair, the horse running faster and <i>tölting<p> smoother than it has ever before.
Riding on Löngufjörur is the experience of a lifetime and a must for those who practice horsemanship in Iceland.
Just imagine: white beaches with a view of some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the country and all the while the brilliant Snaefellsjökull watching over you.
One can debate whether white or black sand is more beautiful—each has its charm—but Löngufjörur are definitely among the more luscious beaches in Iceland.